Fox Sports is kicking off its term as the English-language rights-holder in the U.S. to the FIFA 2015-22 cycle with comprehensive coverage of the Women’s World Cup, highlighted by an unprecedented 16 matches on the broadcast network.
The programmer will televise all 52 matches of the expanded, 24-nation tourney across Canada. The 2015 Women's World Cup begins on June 6 with the host nation entertaining China in Edmonton and culminates with the final on July 5 from Vancouver on the broadcast network. Fox Broadcast’s World Cup slate -- the most ever for an over-the-air network in the U.S. regardless of gender -- will also include one of the semifinals and the third-place contest on July 4.
The game plan also calls for 30 matches -- including all eight in the round of 16, a pair of quarterfinals and one semifinal -- to air on Fox Sports 1.The other six games are slated to run on Fox Sports 2.
Eric Shanks, president, COO and executive producer, Fox Sports, said all of tournament action from the six venues will also be available on computers, tablets and mobile devices via the Fox Sports GO app and online at FoxSportsGO.com.
Fox’s schedule marks a major step up for the Women’s World Cup, which will be televised in Spanish on Telemundo and NBC Universo, officially converting from mun2 on Feb. 1 The previous five FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments – 16 teams were in the hunt -- were televised on ESPN/ESPN2/ABC. The 1999, 2007 and 2011 competitions featured 16 teams and 32 televised matches, while 18 matches aired from the 2003 tourney. Six matches aired in 1995, which like the first event four years earlier, only pitted 12 nations. The 1991 tournament, won by the U.S., which backed up that feat with its transcendent 1999 victory in the Rose Bowl via penalty kicks over China, was not televised Stateside.
ABC last broadcast FIFA Women’s World Cup matches in 2003, carrying three. ABC combined to air seven WWC matches during the three quadrennials from 1995 to 2003.
In addition to match coverage, Fox Sports will line up pregame, postgame and other related programming over the course of the month-long event. Averaging somewhere between six and seven hours per day, the programmer expects to serve up some 200 hours.
The field, which has expanded from 16 to 24 teams and from 32 to 52 matches, is headed by the United States, FIFA’s top-ranked team, defending champion Japan, two-time WWC winner Germany, and Brazil, home to the inimitable Marta.
The Americans’ passage from the group stage is hardly assured. Other Group D members include No. 5 Sweden and No. 10 Australia. Rounding out the so-called Group of Death is Africa’s top side, Nigeria, which stands 35th in FIFA’s rankings.
Distaff futbol aside, Fox is also scheduled to present FIFA under 17 and 20 competitions, as well as beach soccer championships in 2015.
Earlier in the day, Fox announced that longtime ESPN soccer commentator Alexi Lalas would join its futbol telecast team in the new year.